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Check dams, or gully plugs, are structures built across channels to reduce erosion, by lowering water speed and accumulating sediments during floods.

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Check dams, or gully plugs, are structures built across channels to reduce erosion, by lowering water speed and accumulating sediments during floods. They are often introduced in already degraded areas, where natural or agricultural vegetation cover was lost or not capable of holding the top soil. Usually they are built in areas hit by intense runoff events, where conventional erosion control techniques are not sufficient. Check dams need to be built at the right places, ideally where water can be directed to suitable areas for groundwater recharge. In addition, work needs to be started in the upstream of a catchment in order to avoid destruction of the structures. Due to their relative simplicity and easy implementation, they represent one of the most used stabilisation measures worldwide.

For more information about this topic, please click on the elements below.

The introductory video and the summary will give you a first insight into the most important aspects of this topic. Once you have understood the basic concepts, take a look at the gully catchment area scheme. It will give you a better visual overview of the entire area affected by the check dam installation. Through the literature review, you with gain more in-depth knowledge on the topic. Check dam classification, advantages and disadvantages, as well as the basic construction guidelines and design recommendations, are some of the topics covered. Finally, for those of you interested in knowing even more about building check dams, we have provided a step-by-step building handbook. The handbook is based on a review of different manuals and complemented with pictures, for easy understanding.

In case you feel like you have mastered this topic, but would still like to know more about rural development, please have a further look at the materials on our website. Please keep in mind that new materials will be available weekly.

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Check Dams Introduction Video Check Dams Literature Review Sustainable Environmental Practice Cases: a World Map Check Dams Handbook Gully Catchment Area Check Dam Design Tool Check Dams Quiz Check Dams Summary


The Toolbox contains knowledge and methods to revive the land, use synergies and develop degraded rural settings. Each entity in the Toolbox consists of a video and a short summary introducing the topic, a literature review for a more in depth insight into the topic, as well as a quiz to test your knowledge on the subject.

These publications are a result of collaboration with Master students, PhD students and researchers at the Institute of Wastewater Management and Water Protection at Hamburg University of Technology. They are concerned with restoring degraded areas and creating new, not just inhabitable, but liveable spaces. All RUVIVAL publications are available in the readings section for free as a download as we support open access and source.

Furthermore, each toolbox contains a variety of other tools like calculators, manuals, handbooks or a database according to the topic.

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RUVIVAL produces e-learning material concerned with sustainable rural development. The project exists since 2016 as part of the Hamburg Open Online University (HOOU). The RUVIVAL Team produces the material at the Institute of Wastewater Management and Water Protection (AWW) as part of the Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH).

The aim is to spread knowledge on sustainable practices. This e-learning website gives you the tools to implement sustainable practices in the area of sanitation, water and soil conservation.

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Veröffentlicht am

November 07, 2019





Giovanni Timillero

Ruth Schaldach

Isidora Vrbavac

Stefan Hügel

Dominik Kettig

Thu Zar Aung

Katharina Dähn

Jorrit Specker

Athul Bharadwaj

Ilse Gutierrez

Pranav Sharma

María Alejandra Tibaquirá

Nicola van Elten

LRMI Metadaten